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Gold Sovereigns

1871 Royal Mint, London

22 Carat Gold

This shield design was used on London Mint sovereigns between 1838 and 1874, and the design was adapted slightly from that first seen on the new coinage of King George IV in 1825.
On some sovereigns of Queen Victoria with the young head portrait and the shield reverse, die numbers can be found.
They only appear on the second larger type young head, and only from 1863 to 1874. The die numbers can be found on the reverse of the coins, beneath the wreath but above the rose near the bottom of the coin.
There are many possible reasons for using die numbers. The most obvious is to be able to check and control the quality of the dies, particularly if experiments were being conducted into die wear. It is possible that different methods of treating and hardening dies may have been carried out, and die numbering would have helped to ascertain which methods of processing were most successful. Other possible reasons include quality and security control during production.

1871 London Mint Gold Shield Sovereign Reverese

1871 London Mint Gold Shield Sovereign Obverse

Young Head , Shield Reverse.
Die #28 "WW " Raised
The first portrait for Queen Victoria was the "Young Head", which was used on sovereigns from 1938 to 1887 inclusive. It was refined and modified a number of times during this period. In the case of Shield reverse, the date appears below Victoria's portrait (With the St George reverse, the date appears on the reverse. ). The design can best be described by the Master of the Royal Mint, when writing to Queen Victoria regarding its proposal in 1837:
“.... the Ensigns Armorial of the United Kingdom .... Contained in a plain shield, surmounted by the Royal Crown and encircled with a Laurel Wreath, with the inscription BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID DEF, having the united Rose, Thistle and Shamrock placed under the shield.”.
The nature of this design is such that shield sovereigns tend to be marginally concave on the reverse because it is to a small extent protected by the rims.
It can be difficult to accurately distinguish between different grades. For the same reason, shields are generally well struck. As with all coins however, some small differences will occur.
From top to bottom, some of the more prominent points are:
  • The orb at the peak of the crown, the gems directly below this point, and the cross directly below the gems;
  • The diamonds across the base of the crown, and also the fur directly at the base;
  • The edge and separators of the shield;
  • The upper edges of certain leaves comprising the surrounding wreath;
  • The faces on the lions in the upper left and lower right quartiles of the shield;
  • The bust and torso of the angel in the lower left quartile of the shield.



Composition: 91.67% Gold
8.33% Copper
Gold Content: 0.2354 oz
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 7.9881 grams
Size: 21.5 mm
Reverse: Jean Baptiste Merlen
Obverse: William Wyon
Chard Gold Sovereigns Andrew Crellin of Sterling & Currency

The Sovereign
Daniel Fearon & Brian Reeds
17 Windmill Drive
Croxley Green, Hertfordshire
United Kingdom

Token Publishing

The Gold Sovereign
Golden Jubilee Edition

Michael A Marsh
25A St Neots Rd
Cambrigeshire CB3 7QH
United Kingdom